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Men have biological clocks too — age of fathers related to brain disorders - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Nov. 28th, 2007

05:33 pm - Men have biological clocks too — age of fathers related to brain disorders

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Via radiantsun


Studies worldwide have found that with each passing decade of their lives and with each insult they inflict on their bodies, men’s fertility decreases, while genetic risk to offspring slowly mounts. The range of findings is staggering: Several studies have shown that the older the man, the more fragmented the DNA in his ejaculated sperm, resulting in greater risk for infertility, miscarriage or birth defects. Investigations out of Israel, Europe, and the United States have shown that non-verbal (performance) intelligence may decline exclusively due to greater paternal age; that up to a third of all cases of schizophrenia are linked to increasing paternal age; and that men 40 and older are nearly six times more likely to have offspring with autism than men under age 30. Other research shows that the risk of breast and prostate cancer in offspring increases with paternal age.


The biggest news—the father’s role in brain disorders—has come to light largely because of research from Israel, where birth records routinely include the age of the male parent. The first unsettling finding linked paternal age and schizophrenia.

“In our first study, looking at every pregnancy in Jerusalem from 1964 to 1976, we found that increased age in the father predicted increased cases of schizophrenia in the children,” explains Malaspina, who was on the team doing the work. “In our second study we found that when the cases arose from new mutations—not familial inheritance—it almost always could be traced to the genetics of the father. Somewhere between a quarter and a third of the cases could be explained only by the age of the father—a threefold risk linked to fathers older than 50 compared with those in their 20s.” Studies in Sweden and California produced almost identical results.

Original: craschworks - comments

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[User Picture]
Date:November 29th, 2007 03:18 am (UTC)
I sent the article to my dad . . . and he is such a killjoy sometimes . . . but that doesn't mean a killjoy is without merit. Without further rambling, my dad says:

It may be true, it may not. They do not tell you anything about the studies, how they were structured, etc. It is one of those "scientists say" articles and we are supposed to believe it because they say so. These are most certainly epidemiological studies. Such studies are not super reliable. Certainly enough to provide the confidence with which these scientists speak.

On Schizophrenia two things are suspect. They talk about the increase in the number of "children" who develop schizophrenia. It is not a childhood disease. They write "that increased age in the father predicted increased cases of schizophrenia in the children". Children rarely have confirmed cases of schizophrenia. Moreover use of the term "predicted" instead of "associated with" indicate they are pushing the science of the study. A "one third" increase? Why is it with the age of parents rising, we have not seen a rise in the incidence of schizophrenia? Certainly requires an explanation if the hypothesis is to be taken seriously?

It is extremely difficult to diagnose in children. In Israel where the lead study on this subject occurred, up through the mid 70s many patients were diagnosed with schizophrenia who, upon further examination by Eliot Gershon and Robert Belmaker in the early 1970s were determined to have affective disorders, not schizophrenia. Those two American trained psychiatrists changed the diagnosing practices in Israel forever. Today Belmaker is President of the CINP (Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmoacologicum). In the U.S. during the same period it has been determined that fully one third of the patients diagnosed as schizophrenic, would not have been given that diagnosis in the UK. Implicitly the article seems to suggest the children were not followed into early adulthood. It doesn't state how long they were followed. It merely speaks of them as "chidren". Second, I am not aware that there has been much deviation from the pretty much standard rate of 1 percent of the population. They do not comment on this either.

To repeat, some of it may be true. On the other hand it may just be a bunch of PhD's trying to justify spending huge amounts of grant money on their pet projects and reinforcing a sense of importance. There may even be a small element of guy bashing.

It was interesting at the end it seemed to be acknowledged that the evidence was not strong enough to recommend that anyone change their behavior. What does that tell you about the strength of the science?

THis excerpt from Vanderbilt about Psychiatry in Isreal in the early 1970s raises serious questions about the sample used for the study cited:

A turning point in his [Belmaker's] career came in 1973, when Dr. Belmaker contacted Elliot Gershon about spending �an interlude� in Israel. In 1971, Joel Elkes, the Israel Institute for Psychobiology, and Milton Rosenbaum collaborated to bring modern psychiatric research to Israel. The result was a center directed by Gershon and called the Jerusalem Mental Health Center. �Gershon introduced lithium treatment in Israel, rediagnosed many schizophrenic patients as affective disorder (to their lasting benefit), and went on to distinguish himself in psychiatric genetic research in the U.S.� In 1974, at the age of 27, Robert Belmaker was named as Gershon�s successor. He would also hold appointments as lecturer and later associate professor of psychiatry at Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Medicine in Jerusalem.

Between 1974 and 1980, the Jerusalem Mental Health Center hosted over thirty psychiatric residents as each completed a required six-month rotation in research. Belmaker explains, �Often arriving with a background of Freud or Kraepelin and little else, they left with acquaintance of the dopamine hypothesis, research criteria for affective disorder, the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale and cyclic AMP in plasma.� Four of those students showed particular promise as psychopharmacologists, Bernard Lerer, Joseph Zohar, Avraham Weizman, and Ehud Klein.
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[User Picture]
Date:November 29th, 2007 09:51 am (UTC)

Rich Fathers, Hypochondriac Babies.

I think this is at least partial BS. The difference between teen fathers and 40 year old fathers is that 40 year old fathers have the resources to send their children to the quack doctors in the wealthy neighborhoods who bend over backwards to give flavor-of-the-month fashionable diagnoses like Asperger's Syndrome and ADHD... oh wait, no one is getting diagnosed with ADHD anymore! ADHD has disappeared, right as Asperger's took off... coincidence?
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[User Picture]
Date:November 29th, 2007 02:54 pm (UTC)

Re: Rich Fathers, Hypochondriac Babies.

I still want to know how being rambunctious became a disease in the first place, regardless of how it's described.

A lot of the kids getting these diagnoses are the result of poor parenting more than any physical ailments. These rotten, spoiled little brats are ruining things for the few with a genuine disorder. It's getting harder to take these diseases seriously when 80% of the kids "diagnosed" with them have poor impulse control because their parents are too lazy to dish out punishment.
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[User Picture]
Date:November 29th, 2007 05:32 pm (UTC)
Fortunately, I froze all my teenage emissions in handy baggies for later use.
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Date:November 29th, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC)

Paternal Age is a Robust Risk Factor For Schizophrenia and Autism


The paternal age effect describes the influence that a father's age has on the chances of conferring a genetic defect to his offspring. Generally, older men have a greater probability of fathering children with a genetic defect than younger men do.[citation needed] This is seen as likely due to genetic copying errors which may increase in number after repeated spermatogenesis cycles over a man's lifetime

disorders correlated with paternal age
Achondroplasia (dwarfism); craniofacial disorders such as Apert syndrome and Crouzon Syndrome; mental retardation of unknown etiologies; autism; and 25% of schizophrenia cases are correlated with advanced paternal age.

Other disorders related to advanced paternal age are:

Wilms' tumor
Thanatophoric dysplasia
Retinitis pigmentosa
Osteogenesis imperfecta type IIA
Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva
Bilateral retinoblastoma
Multiple exostoses
Marfan Syndrome
Lesch-Nyhan syndrome
Pfeiffer Syndrome
Wardenburg Syndrome
Treacher-Collins Syndrome
Soto’s basal cell nevus
Cleidocranial dysostosis
Polyposis coli
Oculodentodigital syndrome
Costello syndrome
Recklinghausen’s neurofibromatosis
Tuberous sclerosis
Polycystic kidney disease
Hemophilia A
Duchenne muscular dystrophy
Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
Dystonic Cerebral Palsy
Congenital Hemiplegia

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